Without a doubt, this is the toughest Pool of Round 2. Since only the pool leader and the top two of the second ranked teams of each pool will qualify for the third round, this means that at least either one of the Polish (defending champions), Serbian, and French powerhouses will be out of the tournament in three days. Poland finished first in its Round 1 pool, although it faced very weak competition, its toughest opponent being Iran. Meanwhile, Serbia had to play against the USA and Russia, and France had to play against Brazil and Canada. With that being said, the competition is wide open and any of the three squads can advance on to Round 3.
Story Lines To Watch
The Polish team only lost 3 sets of play in 5 games during Round 1 even though it lacks superstar power. Its players do not figure prominently in the competition’s statistical leaderboards. Instead, the squad relies heavily on smart teamwork thanks to its genius coach Vital Heynen. Regardless, the team really got the short end of the stick in Round 2’s drawing, and it will have a very hard time advancing to Round 3 to try and defend its title.
The Serbian has displayed a similar playing profile to that of the Polish team. The difference though, is that the Serbian squad has massive star power in players like Aleksandar Atanasijevic, Marko Podrascanin, and Marko Ivovic, all of whom have failed to shine at their full potential in the tournament so far.
Earvin Ngapeth and Jenia Grebennikov always deliver and are the backbone of the French team. Benjamin Toniutti and Stephan Boyer have oscillated a lot during the tournament, while Kevin Le Rouxhas been out of the line up nurturing an injury. Everyone in the team will have to click at the right time, and Ngapeth and Le Roux will have to be 100% healthy, for it to have a chance to advance against foes like Serbia and Poland.
Facundo Conte is playing the best volleyball of his life, finishing Round 1 as one of the best hitters in the competition. Cristian Poglajen has also come out to play, while Luciano De Cecco, sadly, has not. However, even with De Cecco at 100%, Argentina would need nothing short of a miracle for any chance at advancing to Round 3 after it barely scrapped by the initial round of play.